Esports News UK reached out to all the major political parties over the past few months to attempt to get comment from them about their views on esports, and what they'd do if they got into power.
Not a single party responded to our requests or called us back. Tory Minister for Digital and Culture, Matt Hancock, once recorded a video for the Ukie esports whitepaper launch, and Labour MP for Cardiff West, Kevin Brennan, gave an interview about esports, but it was rather late.
Having noticed our moaning on Twitter, Pirate Party UK Leader David A Elston (pictured left), reached out to us. So we decided to ask him for his thoughts and whether the major parties are dinosaurs when it comes to technology and esports...
Are you surprised that none of the major political parties responded to my questions around what they'd do for esports if they got into power? I was frustrated they didn't respond, yet are doing a lot of activity with the music press...
I find it easy to believe Labour, Tories and UKIP don't understand digital and have probably never heard of the term esports before. The Greens, while generally well-meaning, are very behind when it comes to technology and the new activities it can offer.
The Lib Dems have started to get on board with a lot of our digital policies but ultimately only want to talk about brexit right now, so I expect everything else takes a back seat. I'm short, I'm not surprised but I am a little saddened by it.
Do you think a lot of those mainstream parties are failing to understand modern technology and growth areas?
Other political parties are commonly referred to as dinosaurs, quite rightly, in this regard. Even the newer parties such as the Greens have very old mechanisms built into their structure for change. They struggle to adapt to new evidence and ideas.
Our digital and physical worlds are entirely intertwined, which means they cannot afford to ignore what it offers, but continue to do so. This is where Pirates step in and push the digital agenda.
Labour and Tories were united in trying to clamp down what they don't understand with the
#SnoopersCharter, The Greens want a Zero Growth Economy instead of allowing the growth of the digital economy and the other parties generally have absolutely nothing or little to say about the internet in general, let alone the sub-cultures, entertainment or esports communities.
"Censorship, abroad or at home, will stifle the growth of esports in the UK. If I worked in esports I think the internet censorship proposed by the Tories (and not opposed by Labour) would worry me."
What are your views on esports in the UK right now?
If I worked in esports I think the internet censorship proposed by the Tories (and not opposed by Labour) would worry me. Geoblocking must be incredibly frustrating for example. Back when I would play games online for several hours at a time, I know your online community can span the globe, which means access is incredibly important - what is censored in one country, such as Australia, will have an impact on who people in the UK can play with.
Healthy competition is necessary for a sport to survive, so censorship, abroad or at home, will stifle the growth of esports in the UK. It would seem esports in a lot of ways is subject to the developer of the game and how the tournaments are handled. In my view, Overwatch seems to be struggling in that regard... I'm always surprised how Counter-Strike seems to continue, I could never really get into that personally...
What would you do for esports if you got into power?
PPUK prides itself on crowdsourcing policy. If the esports community suggests a policy and it has a solid base in evidence, then it makes it's way into our policy portfolio. Instead of trying to sell you a pre-determined menu of policies, we prefer to listen to your ideas, and represent them instead. It's really how politics should be done.
However, for some specifics, we are strongly against the
#SnoopersCharter and the DE Act... providing high speed broadband to everyone and free public WiFi.
Some of these policies would be more relevant to the esports participants, others will be more relatable to the fans who want to keep up-to-date. I think most importantly though, we have a clear principle direction that access to things such as esports needs to be safeguarded and maintained.
The economy isn't doing very well, and the expansion of the digital economy, through producers that deal in esports, could be a very welcome boost.
"PPUK prides itself on crowdsourcing policy. If the esports community suggests a policy and it has a solid base in evidence, then it makes it's way into our policy portfolio."
Please tell us more about the Pirate Party for those who aren't familiar with you.
The Pirate Party is a party primarily built around access. This could be access to justice, transport or education offline or our digital world's offerings, such as entertainment, huge sums of knowledge or to connect with other people.
We're strong advocates of the right to free speech, it's a crucial keystone of our society - nothing can be discussed, about the environment, workers rights... or even esports without the right to freely express yourself.
Our other two core policies focus around maintaining the right to a private life - keeping Theresa May out of our emails, Facebook or Whatsapp conversations and reforming copyright law to allow innovation to flourish.
Interestingly I did a Computer Games Development degree some years ago and found it incredibly difficult to gain access to a lot of information, including games, due to copyright restrictions. We would reform copyright to a 10-year period, closer to its original 14-year period for reasons like that.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Gaming in general has really opened up a lot of understanding into the human mind. I personally found that after 23, I found those younger than me were quickly catching up to my own performance. Psychologists performed similar studies, using computer games as a base and found that our mental agility peaks at 23.
It's rather interesting that just like physical sports players, such as footballers, there is a young, ideal, peak age to play. Gaming has come a long way and esports should really be recognised as a sport, at least in terms of visas and funding. It has a lot to contribute.
I suppose that links back to access. At the moment our physical world does somewhat limit esports in this regard.
Also, I once formed a Computer Games Development society at university - we were told a 'computer games tournament' wasn't allowed and the word esports wasn't even a term people knew then.
I think this attitude would need to change in order for it to gain better traction. Maybe this is something the student unions can help resolve.
More information on the Pirate Party: https://www.pirateparty.org.uk/